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home : columns : columns April 30, 2016

12/4/2013 2:43:00 PM
The Traffic Guy hears ...
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… that the final street-cleaning day will be Dec. 6, not Nov. 30 – perhaps a chance to collect even more money on tickets and tows. What if a lot of snow comes before Dec. 6 and some poor soul is parked illegally? Will the car be towed twice (to the lot then returned ((at owner’s expense))) only to be re-towed for the second violation? How will the officers know whether to ticket – for a snow-parking or street-sweeping violation? Oh! thats right! Compliance with the extended street-sweeping hours is "voluntary." Stay tuned.

… that, to entice folks to shop, dine and access culture in Evanston, there is free parking at certain times in the City’s three downtown parking garages and in the parking lot on Chicago Avenue just south of Dempster. Hours of free parking for the self-park garages are weekdays after 5 p.m. to midnight and all day on Saturdays. City Lot 60, 1234 Chicago Ave., will provide two hours of free parking between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturdays and after 5 p.m. on weekdays. Sunday parking is always free in the parking garages and lots.

… that the City budget does not contain funding for a "mobile City Hall," which the City Manager wishes to have driving around the City to answer questions about City government and such. TG is not sure how this differs (except in size and expense) from the 311 car that was parked at farmers’ markets and other community locations this past summer. Detractors are calling it the "popemobile," but maybe the "wallywagon" would be accurate too.

… that the City will purchase different water-treatment chemicals from five different vendors in the coming year: aluminum sulfate from USALCO of Baltimore; chlorine from Alexander Chemical Corp. of Downers Grove; fluoride from Polydyne Inc. of Riceboro, Ga.; and blended phospage from Carus Corporation of Peru, Ill. The total amount is $506,494.40. Speaking of water, both the north and the south standpipes need to be painted inside and out, so the City will consult with Tank Industry Consultants of Indianapolis to provide engineering services.

The south standpipe was constructed in 1983 and the north in 1985. They were last painted in 1996-97. According to the City, the standpipes "require periodic repainting to maintain the structural integrity of the steel shells and preserve water quality." The paint jobs last about 10 years (interior) and 15 years (exterior). The City says, "If repainting is delayed further, structural damage may result that could lead to contamination of the water supply and costly repairs" and recommends painting (south) in 2014 and (north) in 2015, along with the installation of mixing equipment to maintain water quality and reduce ice formation in winter." What are we waiting for? Go!

… that the City will modernize and coordinate traffic signals along Dempster. The streets to get the "modernization" part – with LED lights –are Fowler, Hartrey, Shopping Plaza Drive and Dodge. The Asbury and Ridge signals will be coordinated (presumably all along the corridor there). There will be pedestrian "countdowns" and emergency preemption devices to allow first responders to get through more easily.

… that, with a little help from the Illinois Department of Transportation, the City will do some construction on the Safe Routes to School project – in this case, replacing curb extensions and sidewalk slabs. The money, almost $250,000, comes through the federal government via Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users act (SAFETEA-LU). The program encourages walking and bicycling by providing, well, safe routes to school. Here are the locations for this part of the project: northeast corner of Dodge and Kirk; northeast corner of Oakton and Barton; all corners of Oakton and Wesley; southwest corner of Main and Florence; the east side of Wesley and Grove; the northeast corner of Lincoln and Prairie and the southeast corner of Grant and Bennett. The application also included sidewalk slab replacements along the school walk-routes for Dawes, Chute, Oakton, Washington, Dewey, Nichols, Lincolnwood, Willard, Orrington, Lincoln, Haven, and Kingsley schools. Speaking of schools, the City will make Monticello between Orrington and the first alley one-way eastbound during school drop-off and pick-up hours at Orrington School.

…… that the mixed-use building on the northwest corner of Dempster and Darrow will get some help from the City in improving its façade, this through the Economic Development Fund’s Business District Improvement fund. The wood paneling above each door will be removed, each business will get new windows and new glass doors, new awnings will be installed and tuck pointing and masonry work will be done. In addition, the City is working with the owner to "remove excessive signage from storefront windows, in accordance with the City’s sign ordinance."

… that the City will sell some of its rock salt supply to District 65 and District 202. At a price of $66.67 per ton, the City gets a 10 percent administration and handling charge for storing, scooping it out, etc.

… that the City will use $700,000 worth of motor fuel tax funds for general maintenance of streets.

… that, as of last month E15 (15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline) is available in the state but so far only in Rochelle, Ill. Rochelle-based Illinois River Energy teamed up with the Rochelle Petro Travel Plaza to begin offering the higher-level blend. According to the press release from Illinois River Energy, "E15 is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for vehicles 2001 and newer and is the most tested fuel in EPA approval history." Available for the past 16 months, E15 has logged more than 45 million miles "with no known cases of engine damage," the press release said, adding that ethanol "created over 87,000 jobs while sustaining an additional 295,000 and has reduced America’s foreign oil dependence to 41 percent, compared to 48 percent without ethanol."

… that the Active Transportation Alliance honored the City of Evanston with a Public Leadership Award for "designing vibrant, liveable streets and public spaces that support walking, biking and transit." The award, ATA says, recognizes Evanston as the first suburban community in Chicagoland to create protected bike lanes, and its current project of updating its bike plan to further develop comfortable corridors that even novice cyclists and children will like to use." Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Groupon company were also honored

… that Chi.StreetsBlog.org reports that the CTA could apply for some newly available federal grant money for upgrades to the Red and Purple lines: "In a great example of President Obama’s "fix it first" strategy (improving existing infrastructure before building new), the Federal Transit Administration is changing one of its rules to allow the Chicago Transit Authority to apply for a large grant to help fund the $2-4 billion Red-Purple Modernization project. … Previously, the FTA’s "New Starts, Small Starts" program was for cities and transit agencies to build new or extended lines, but it was modified in the latest surface transportation bill, MAP-21, to include a "Core Capacity" program authored by Senator Dick Durbin. This program is available for transit corridors operating at or near capacity.

… that the City has posted on its website an online tool that residents can use to give feedback about the newly proposed bicycle plan. The system, Community Remarks, allows residents to share their ideas by visiting www.communityremarks.com/Evanston. Anyone who clicks on "Add your comment to the map," can review others’ comments and respond to them. The system will be open until Dec. 6.

… that, speaking of the City, again considerations are afoot about the City-owned surface parking lot at 1718 Chicago Ave. – behind the Main Library. Folks may remember that the parking lot was considered appropriate for a downtown performing arts venue (only in a study – no one has come forth with the money, as yet). The City Manager apparently has said that parties have expressed interest in the property as a site for office space, mixed-use developments, housing and a hotel. Of course, the only income at present is from the parking meters (including the charging station). So far the only public comments offered by aldermen are that it should be a commercial rather than residential space and that the property, if sold, be on the tax rolls. Stay tuned.

… that vacancy rates as of the second quarter of the year are 9.5 percent for office; 9.9 percent for industrial; and 7.6 percent commercial, per the City’s figures. Speaking of vacancies, the former KFC building on Dempster just west of Dodge that remains vacant – still owned by Yum! Brands, the corporate owner of KFC and a host of other fast-food chains – has been listed. The property will have a deed restricting the sale to a business that does
not compete with Yum! – that is pizza, Mexican, chicken, seafood and hamburgers. But that leaves gluten-free and veggies as possibilities. According to information from the City, Yum! is in the process of selling A&W and Long John Silver.

From our readers:TG:So sorry to hear your car was towed. It’s happened to me, too. Got me wondering,"Why do we tow cars for street cleaning?" In less than thetime it takes for a tow truck driver to tow a car and return, a City employee or a contractor with a leaf blower could move the leaves and litter from under the car, and blow them a distance down the street for pickup. This would save time and money and aggravation and reduce trucks on the street, and fuel usage. The cost of the leaf blowing could be added to the City fine. That fine would still make an impression, even without the tow charge. Isn’t it more sensible to move pounds of leaves rather than tons of car?

– Michael Peshkin

From TG: Thanks, Mr. Peshkin. This is the most sensible thing TG has heard in regards to street cleaning. After all, the point, according to the City, is to keep the drains clear, something that your proposal addresses. Now, if the real point is to generate revenue (the City does receive a portion of the tow fee), then all bets are off. TG hopes that City folks will read this but will forward your letter to the Public Works Director and the City Manager,
just in case.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

... Santa's back.





Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013
Article comment by: george roth

Davis Street. This morning the utility crews arrived bright and early to start digging up the lovely pavement we finally got on Davis--between Chicago and Hinman. Unbelievable. (Before the "final" paving, they had already laid down and then dug up several rounds of pavement and/or concrete).



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